Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Anne's flirtation with Rome

I watched Anne Rice talk about her reasons for leaving the Catholic Church. Although her reasons for leaving hardly came as a shocker; it was her explanations for why she came into the Church that got my attention. I’m not about to sit here and decipher if one’s conversion is genuine and true, because that’s not only wrong, but there is no way of knowing outside of their personal convictions; and that’s enough.

However, the atheist often prides himself on holding him/herself on a higher intellectual arena where the theist can’t come and meet them (or so they think). Her vampire novels were an expression of how she felt and it expressed her atheism at its roots. These feelings and expressions are perhaps more telling about her long holding stance as an atheist, then they are about the proto-typical atheist that I’m accustomed to bumping into.

The atheist I’m used to dialoguing with would have crossed there t’s and dotted their i’s before even thinking of joining the Church; especially the Catholic Church. Anne’s conversion was perhaps a mini Damascus road experience with a touch of perspicuity as to what the Catholic Church actually taught. Or maybe it’s like falling in love with someone that you know has certain character flaws but you move forward anyways. Conversions are often complicated, difficult, and confusing; not a fun place to be.

I hope she finds peace in her decision and I can only finish off by saying that her Catholicism was certainly not my Catholicism.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Catholic ritualism was icky

I remember thinking “my goodness, all that catholic stuff with the saints, Mary, kneeling, candles, statues, etc…..just seems like a huge distraction from what really matters.” What could that be? Our relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ of course! All that catholic stuff all seemed grossly excessive. It was all idolatrous to me and that Catholics honored saints far too much.

The vivid memories of my mom making offers to a saint with a cigar in his mouth and a bag (with money I think) on his hands was just absurd to me. It wasn’t until much later that I discovered that saint wasn’t a catholic saint at all, but a mayan pagan saint with a history of opposition to the Catholic Church. How ironic…There is no question I can relate to people who feel this way. In fact, I still struggle with some of those feelings to this day; always keeping a watchful eye that Catholics don’t take it too far.

The shift for me started when I was listening to 107.9 (local Christian radio that flourished from the Chuck Smith / Calvary Chapel movement). Raul Ruiz was the hosting pastor and I enjoyed (still listen to him) listening to him daily. His comments about St. Paul being the most this and most that sparked my thoughts and icky feelings of hearing similar rhetoric about Mary. At that moment in time it became readily apparent to me that non-catholic Christians could talk all day and night about St. Paul and never feel as though by focusing so much on him was in any way "worshipping Paul" or "giving him "too much honor". Paul-centered sermons were so normal and prevalent in most of the protestant churches I attended that it never crossed my mind that it was excessive and too much. Why? Well, because I knew (along with most of the members in our congregation) that Jesus comes to us through St. Paul and there is no conflict between the two. Yet if a catholic even had a statue of Mary or had the slightest mention of her, it immediately brought a flood of warnings upon most of our congregants. It made me think, that maybe……just maybe, Catholics honored Mary in the same way we honored Paul. Not only that, but I can’t recall hearing a single sermon on Mary, why?

Looking back it, I can’t help but give a gentle smirk at it all.

I was originally intending to get into the details of Mary and the Saints but there is so many good resources out there; no sense in reinventing the wheel:

Why do Catholics pray to the saints?

The link above covers an array of questions so hopefully you find it a helpful and fruitful read.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Christopher Hitchens

I saw this the other day:

The thing that stuck with me the most was that he had a good friend along his side.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Trinity explained

Although most explanations of the Trinity fall short, here is a couple that I found helpful. Please forgive the lack of sources as this was gathered from a forum I used to attend and searching for the actual posts is a pain.

The Trinity from a union perspective:
God designed the union of husband and wife to teach us about the inner life of the Trinity. When we see the love of husband and wife overflowing into the fruitfulness of children, we learn a very important truth about God: God is not a sterile duality, but a fruitful Trinity. In the Trinity, the Two become One and so burst forth in a third Person. So, too, in the world, husband and wife are called to become one and give new life to another person. A family is an historical trinity reflecting the eternal Trinity.

Celtic Anglican:
Imagine a mountain. Upon this mountain is a moor. The weather patterns around the mountain change, and the moor is filled with water. From the moment the moor water forms into an aquifer, the aquifer produces a river. The river flows down the mountain, and nourishes the fields of wheat below.

Now, the aquifer is the source of the river. The moment the aquifer became an aquifer, it produced the river. That doesn't mean the aquifer isn't the source.

Similarly, the Father has always produced the Son and the Spirit - though that doesn't negate from the Father's status as the divine origin.

JamesThePersian (Eastern Orthodox):
God is One in His Divine Essence, His substance if you like, but He is made up of three Hypostases. Hypostasis is usually translated into English as Person, but that's a fairly poor translation, it's more like personal essence, that which makes an individual a unique person. There really isn't a good analogy that can be used because this is utterly other than all beings that we have experience of in real life. The best way I can describe it is this: a human has one essence (that which makes him human) and one hypostasis (that which makes him uniquely him). God has one Essence (that which makes Him Divine) but three Hypostases. He is, then, One God (one individual) in three Hypostases and is always, simultaneously, One according to His essence but Three in His Hypostases. I'm sure that my description fails at many levels, but we were asked to explain in our own words so I can't call on the words of the Fathers. It is impossible to really grasp the Trinity with our rational mind (hence us calling it a Mystery) so I'd be unsurprised if people don't follow my attempt to explain. You can pretty much guarantee that if someone tells you the Trinity is 'simple' they don't have a clear idea of what it means themselves.

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
253 The Trinity is One. We do not confess three Gods, but one God in three persons, the "consubstantial Trinity".83 The divine persons do not share the one divinity among themselves but each of them is God whole and entire: "The Father is that which the Son is, the Son that which the Father is, the Father and the Son that which the Holy Spirit is, i.e. by nature one God."84 In the words of the Fourth Lateran Council (1215), "Each of the persons is that supreme reality, viz., the divine substance, essence or nature."85

254 The divine persons are really distinct from one another. "God is one but not solitary."86 "Father", "Son", "Holy Spirit" are not simply names designating modalities of the divine being, for they are really distinct from one another: "He is not the Father who is the Son, nor is the Son he who is the Father, nor is the Holy Spirit he who is the Father or the Son."87 They are distinct from one another in their relations of origin: "It is the Father who generates, the Son who is begotten, and the Holy Spirit who proceeds."88 The divine Unity is Triune.

255 The divine persons are relative to one another. Because it does not divide the divine unity, the real distinction of the persons from one another resides solely in the relationships which relate them to one another: "In the relational names of the persons the Father is related to the Son, the Son to the Father, and the Holy Spirit to both. While they are called three persons in view of their relations, we believe in one nature or substance."89 Indeed "everything (in them) is one where there is no opposition of relationship."90 "Because of that unity the Father is wholly in the Son and wholly in the Holy Spirit; the Son is wholly in the Father and wholly in the Holy Spirit; the Holy Spirit is wholly in the Father and wholly in the Son."91

Friday, August 6, 2010

Belief in Hell

Does the Catholic Church believe in hell and if so, why is God so cruel?

It is the catholic view that God does not create any mechanism that causes pain in the afterlife. Rather, the pain/discomfort is an experience as a result of a choice. It is not necessary to say that God imposes hell as punishment. It is not clear that God makes it intentionally unpleasant. It may be the very nature of the people who are there, and the fact that they are finally given what they want: freedom from God.

To the Catholic, heaven and hell may be the very same objective place (if one wishes to call it a place as an anthrophormism). How you experience this place is wholly dependant on what choices you make in this life. From:

1033 We cannot be united with God unless we freely choose to love him. But we cannot love God if we sin gravely against him, against our neighbor or against ourselves: "He who does not love remains in death. Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him."612 Our Lord warns us that we shall be separated from him if we fail to meet the serious needs of the poor and the little ones who are his brethren.613 To die in mortal sin without repenting and accepting God's merciful love means remaining separated from him for ever by our own free choice. This state of definitive self-exclusion from communion with God and the blessed is called "hell."

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Euthanasia - the way of the future

I have a new found respect for those who keep up with their blogs. I just can’t seem to muster up the time to stay active in it. This is my first post in 2010.

I was listening to a radio host interview a man with Lou Gehrig’s disease. He presented him as a courageous and honorable man whose intentions are to allow a doctor to end his life; or better known as euthanasia. There was an eerie and cold feeling about the whole thing for me. To think people will someday willfully put an end to the lives of handicapped, sick, or dying persons. I don’t think it’s a stretch at all to say euthanasia can potentially be our next over the counter permanent pill. Depressed? In pain? Do you have Down Syndrome? Are you just not contributing anything to the world?.........just come to your local hospital and we will put an end to all your misery. Can’t decide on your own? No worries, we’ll decide if you are competent enough to decide and if you’re not we’ll choose for you. 10 out of 10 times we’ll probably put you to down to help alleviate our finance books.

Sounds Twilightish and like a sci-fi thriller eh? I am absolutely repulsed by our culture's cavalier disregard for life, particularly when clothed in thoughtless libertarian nonsense. As if people have no value to them unless they contribute something. Stephen Hawking a great example of someone with the disease who contributes quite a bit; but what if he didn’t?

Granted, I realize there are situations that warrant it (although it’s no longer called euthanasia); like removing a respirator from a person without intending to cause the death.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains it far better then I ever could:

2278 Discontinuing medical procedures that are burdensome, dangerous, extraordinary, or disproportionate to the expected outcome can be legitimate; it is the refusal of "over-zealous" treatment. Here one does not will to cause death; one's inability to impede it is merely accepted. The decisions should be made by the patient if he is competent and able or, if not, by those legally entitled to act for the patient, whose reasonable will and legitimate interests must always be respected.

2279 Even if death is thought imminent, the ordinary care owed to a sick person cannot be legitimately interrupted. The use of painkillers to alleviate the sufferings of the dying, even at the risk of shortening their days, can be morally in conformity with human dignity if death is not willed as either an end or a means, but only foreseen and tolerated as inevitable Palliative care is a special form of disinterested charity. As such it should be encouraged.